Nets react to Thursday's postponement

10/31/2012 6:50 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Avery Johnson hopes his Nets can give fans "something to smile about" on Saturday.(AP)
Less than 36 hours before tipoff, the NBA officially postponed Thursday’s Nets-Knicks game at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on the behest of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose city is dealing with the after-effects of Hurricane Sandy.

The announcement may have dampened the spirits of the many planning to attend – a group Bloomberg and his family were a part of – but the Mayor did have some good Nets news, saying that Saturday’s Nets-Raptors game at Barclays Center will go on as scheduled, and both Mayor Bloomberg and Nets CEO Brett Yormark also said in separate statements that the city, the team, and the NBA will work together to put an increased transportation plan in place if NYC’s mass transit system still isn’t fully operational by then.

In his statement released shortly after the postponement was announced, Yormark also said that on Saturday, the Barclays Center doors will open at 5:30 p.m. for the scheduled 7:30 p.m. game, and fans who arrive early can enjoy select food and beverage specials from 5:30-7 p.m.

The Nets were practicing at Barclays Center on Wednesday, as their training facility in East Rutherford, N.J. is still without power from the storm, and coach Avery Johnson relayed the news to his team about halfway through the scheduled practice.

"(Postponing the game is) the right thing to do,” Johnson told the media after practice. “We all would have loved to play, and for the people that have power or some of the fans that could have made it to the building, we would have loved to have brought them some sense of entertainment or joy or whatever. But at the same time, all the people who are responsible for making this decision, it's the right thing to do.”

The team itself was disappointed in the postponement, but were all on board with the decision.

“We’re disappointed that we can't play, but there are a lot more important things going on right now and a lot of people are displaced from their homes and a lot of people lost loved ones,” said Deron Williams. “So in the grand scheme of things, basketball doesn't mean much right now, (and) it will be hard for people to even get to the game in the first place with public transportation being shut down.”

One player who can certainly emphasize that point is rookie guard Tyshawn Taylor, who Tweeted Tuesday that he was stuck in his Hoboken, N.J. apartment due to massive flooding. Taylor missed practice Wednesday because he was still unable to get out of Hoboken, and GM Billy King reiterated that despite the hardship, Taylor (and the Nets) know it could have been much worse.

“We're fortunate that a lot of our guys were able to get here; Tyshawn is still stranded in Hoboken … but there are people that have lost lives, loved ones, and their belongings throughout this. So, I think as an organization, as players, we've got to be sensitive and understand that it's bigger than the game of basketball,” King said. “What this storm has done to this region, as (New Jersey) Gov. Christie said, it's something no one has ever seen in their lifetime.”

Looking ahead, the Nets will continue to practice at Barclays Center for the immediate future as they await further word on any damage to their New Jersey facility, but Johnson said that won’t provide a logistical problem at all for the team or the arena.

"Fortunately we have a practice court here, so we'll be able to practice here; even if there's an event going on the main floor or in the main part of the building, we can still get on the practice court,” the Nets’ coach said.

And, even if their Brooklyn debut has to wait 48 hours, both Johnson and Williams hope that the city will be back on its feet and ready to bring an electric atmosphere to the Nets’ new digs.

“It’s better to open the building with a good buzz and a good atmosphere, and that will be hard to do if people can't get to the games,” Williams said, with Johnson adding, “If we are going to open up on Saturday, if they show up on Saturday, hopefully we'll give them something to smile about."

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